Exploring the mountains from sun up to indulging at day’s end - it’s a timeless recipe in its most elemental form. This mountain code makes for endless memorable experiences in Banff National Park.
In April, there’s no shortage of ways to make this recipe a reality. This off-peak month offers a mecca of mountain activities, highlighting the best of many seasons. Spring skiing is a pinnacle for many winter enthusiasts, as the local resorts sit at elevations where the sun shines long and warm, and the snow is still light, dry, and plentiful. In the valley bottom, nature walks in the forest, along the river, or through a canyon are a prelude to even more great experiences to come, as you take in some of Banff National Park’s best sightseeing.
And just as the mountains come alive to greet another summer, so too does the culinary scene in Banff National Park. Back for its second year, Cochon555 returns to Banff National Park for another great weekend of delicious delights with a three-day culinary celebration in April. And this year will be better than ever with the addition of new collaborative dinners, featuring Banff and Lake Louise’s homegrown talent partnered with special guests. This will be paired with the main event where five competing local chefs highlight the best regional flavours in Banff National Park.
With so much to take in over three days, you’ll want to get to Banff early to settle in and unwind. Check out these accommodation options to make your home base for the weekend. After checking in, head out to discover the heart of vibrant downtown Banff. Treat yourself to a creative spin on a classic cocktail at The Block, such as their Gin Beetroot Sour or Lavender Mule. Or head over to Park Distillery to discover their taste of the Rockies with their hand-milled, hand-mashed, and hand-distilled small batch spirits made with local ingredients - such as the local Engelmann spruce tip in their Alpine Dry Gin.
Get a fresh start to your morning with spring freshies at the local ski resorts - Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay. All within a 10 to 40-minute bus shuttle from Banff, you’ll love the mountaintop vistas, long and cruisey ski runs, and of course, the après pints! Dig in to their on-resort eats, serving up everything from fondue to ramen to sushi. If you're looking for the ultimate in après, stay for the Winemaker Dinner hosted at Sunshine Mountain Lodge.
At day’s end, long table culinary dinners will await you in selected Banff restaurants. Local top culinary talent will collaborate with visiting culinary stars to present multi-course menus. Each course will highlight both the distinct skills of each chef, and the regional flavours of the Rockies. Communal seating and chefs on sight will encourage the discussion and discovery of each dish.
Join guest Chef Anita Lo (Iron Chef Winner, Top Chef Master) as she teams up with Chef Sebastien Tessier to create a four-course dinner at Three Ravens Restaurant. Or watch as Chef Darren MacLean (The Final Table) is paired with Chef Alistair Barnes to collaborate on a five-course menu at Buffalo Mountain Lodge.
Move into the weekend with a more relaxed pace from the adrenaline-fueled day prior. This balance will encourage you to notice the finer details of the outdoors. A meander along the Lake Louise shoreline, or any of these winter hikes are a great way to soak in the scenery. If the snow is still around, a canyon snowshoe to Johnson Canyon or Marble Canyon will transport you to another world. Or, take it all in from a mountaintop with the Banff Gondola. The boardwalk along Sulphur Mountain’s ridgeline is equally accessible and astonishing.
Be sure to work up that appetite on your outing, as the main event, Cochon555, will fully satiate with many mouth-watering tastings. At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, five competing chefs will cook five heritage-breed pigs alongside five winemakers, in a friendly nose to tail competition awaiting your vote. Regional producers from Alberta and British Columbia will join the event, as chefs, bartenders, sommeliers, farmers, and producers will present their proudest products at a variety of food and beverage stations.
End your weekend with a luxurious sleep-in, and one last casual walk through town to take in the mountain vibe. This will pair beautifully with a quality cup in hand from any of these local bakeries and cafes. Afterward, grab a late morning bite as you reminisce on your favourite flavours and adventures of the weekend. Some of the best brunch spots include The Vermillion Room at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Crave Mountain Grill at the Banff Park Lodge, and the Juniper Bistro.